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How Amazon Branded Convenience and Normalized Monopoly

MIT Press,

15 minutes de lecture
8 points à retenir
Audio et texte


Amazon is renowned for its customer focus – but customers need to understand the cost.

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Are you an Amazon user? A Prime member? Do you send your friends to Amazon when they’re looking for a particular product? If so, you’re not alone: Amazon has become a widely trusted business and accounts for almost half of all American online retail sales. Yet few people stop to consider the material, human and environmental costs of Amazon’s customer service obsession. In this well-researched and -argued book, associate professor of communication Emily West investigates how Amazon became a welcome part of people’s everyday lives – and why it’s your responsibility to hold tech giants accountable.


Many people think of Amazon as an online retailer, but its reach goes much further.

Retail is an important part of Amazon’s business, but it’s not, in fact, the company’s main purpose. Amazon sees itself as a “customer company” and a digital platform business and has become an essential infrastructure in many people’s daily lives. The nature of infrastructure is that people only notice it when it fails to work as expected.Thus, the true extent of Amazon’s activities is almost invisible, despite the fact that they touch so many areas of life.

As a digital platform, Amazon acts as an intermediary. For example, more than 50% of the products Amazon sells on its platform are not Amazon-branded products, but come from other sellers; Amazon levies a fee on every transaction. Acting as a middleman allows Amazon to collect data from many sellers, which it applies to predict trends and sell advertising.

As a cloud computing service, Amazon provides third parties with the tools to build their businesses. Cloud computing is Amazon’s most profitable business, and it subsidizes other aspects of Amazon’s operations.

Amazon is a trusted distribution...

About the Author

Associate professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Emily West is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture.

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